Public Relations is by no means an exact science. It is impossible to know what the outcome of a PR campaign will be and how people will respond to a campaign. However, there are ways you can be prepared for what to expect and by setting client expectations, it can save both you and your client a lot of unwanted grief along the road. While public relations is an important tool to increase a brand’s visibility, it is most effective when the client is informed about how it works. Here are five of the most common client misconceptions about PR:
1. PR firms work independently
Some clients seem to believe that once they hire a PR firm, the firm will click their fingers to get the client the exposure they want. The client may leave everything up to the firm without a second thought about their part in the process.
However, we know that’s not how PR works. For an effective PR strategy, the client needs to know that engagement with the agency is essential. A good PR campaign requires both proactive and reactive input from the client.
2. Results happen overnight
The outcome of PR campaigns takes time. Some clients expect their visibility and sales to grow instantaneously. However, as with marketing strategies like SEO or content marketing, it takes a while to see results.
Clients who want to see a viral campaign after one press release need to be aware that results like that take ongoing and consistent effort. Make sure these expectations are laid out clearly from the beginning.
3. You will definitely get results
PR is definitely a gamble. Some PR professionals will be upfront with their clients about this – and some won’t. The best course of action is to make clients understand PR efforts cannot guarantee results. The role of a PR firm is to open windows of opportunities for clients; however, what happens after the windows are open are not always within our control.
4. PR professionals can control media exposure
It needs to be reiterated PR can provide opportunities for clients to different avenues to gain exposure but cannot control much after. A journalist is not under the beck and call of PR professionals and they are ultimately in charge of what they publish and when. Stories can be cut due to breaking dues or competing priorities.
Clients need to understand that public relations professionals don’t have complete control of every aspect of the story. The media outlet isn’t on our timeline – actually it’s the other way around.
5. The clients only job is to sign off on what the PR firm provides
Refer the point number #1. Client engagement is essential to PR success. For instance, if a PR consultant, sends a press release for a client to approve, the client should provide his or her feedback and comments, not just a nod of approval. The consultant shouldn’t be left wondering whether or not the client event read the press release. A proactive client means PR efforts that are more aligned to the goals and mission of the organization.